Pulitzer Prize winner Hilton Als and Macarthur Fellowship winner Valeria Luiselli among acclaimed authors and poets to headline LitFest, Feb. 23-26.
(AMHERST, Mass., Jan. 26, 2022)—From Feb. 23–26, Amherst College will host the eighth annual LitFest, a literary festival celebrating fiction, nonfiction, poetry and spoken-word performance, along with the College’s extraordinary literary life. This year’s lineup includes Pulitzer Prize winner Hilton Als, MacArthur Fellowship winner Valeria Luiselli, and 2022 National Book Award finalists Meghan O’Rourke and Ingrid Rojas Contreras, among others.
Since its inception in 2016, more than 30 renowned writers—including Michael Chabon, Natalie Diaz, Masha Gessen, Min Jin Lee, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Zadie Smith and Jesmyn Ward—have participated in LitFest, many as a result of a partnership between Amherst College; its award-winning literary magazine, The Common; and the National Book Foundation (NBF) Presents program. More information about the events, the writers and the livestreams is available at amherst.edu/go/litfest. The 2023 authors’ schedule is as follows (all times are EST):
Friday, Feb. 24
- Reception and Opening of God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin, with remarks by Hilton Als; Siddhartha V. Shah, director of the Mead Art Museum; and Jennifer Acker ’00, editor-in-chief of The Common. 6 p.m., Mead Art Museum
- A Conversation with National Book Award Finalists Meghan O’Rourke and Ingrid Rojas Contreras, with remarks by Amherst President Michael A. Elliott ’92, and Ruth Dickey, executive director of the NBF. Moderated by Dennis Sweeney, lecturer at Amherst College. 7 p.m., Johnson Chapel
Saturday, Feb. 25
- Emily Dickinson Museum Poetry Event with Victoria Chang and Tyehimba Jess. Noon at the Friendly Reading Room, Frost Library
- Readings by Amherst Alumni Authors Ted Conover ’80, Catherine Newman ’90, Marti Dumas ’98, Mark Vanhoenacker ’96 and student interns from The Common. 4 p.m., location TBD
- The Common hosts Valeria Luiselli in Conversation with Acker. 7 p.m., Johnson Chapel
Sunday, Feb. 26
- President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism: Hilton Als in Conversation with Professor Frank Leon Roberts. 1 p.m., Johnson Chapel
Additional events include a Spoken Word Slam for students and writing workshops for Amherst College students. The full schedule is now available. This year’s festival coincides with a special exhibition at the Mead Art Museum of God Made My Face, originally organized by Hilton Als for David Zwirner Gallery in 2019 that explores the life, work, and legacy of James Baldwin (1924–1987). In addition, Hilton Als is an Amherst Presidential Scholar and his LitFest conversation is presented as part of the President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism.
“The authors and the topics they care about couldn't be a more timely or welcome addition to our community this winter,” said Acker, who also directs LitFest. “We can’t wait for LitFest!”
Books featured at LitFest can be purchased in advance from independent retailers Amherst Books (offering a discount on LitFest titles) or Bookshop.org. All registrants will be invited to enter a raffle for a chance to win a book from one of the guest authors.
This year’s festival is sponsored by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College, The Common magazine and The Emily Dickinson Museum and is made possible by the generous support of the Croxton Lecture Fund, established in 1988 by William M. Croxton ’36 in memory of his parents, Ruth L. and Hugh W. Croxton. The fund was established to educate Amherst students and bring renowned speakers to the College.
In addition to welcoming prestigious writers to campus, LitFest aims to illuminate Amherst’s distinguished literary history and the tradition of creative writing at “the writing college,” as well as the extraordinary resources and opportunities available for current and prospective students, scholars and others. Among the College’s rich offerings are chances to study with renowned faculty and alumni authors; the College’s award-winning literary magazine, The Common, and its Literary Publishing Internship that teaches participating students editorial skills and the ins and outs of publishing; extensive holdings of manuscripts related to Emily Dickinson, Richard Wilbur ’42 and other authors and poets in the College’s archives; and the College-owned Emily Dickinson Museum in downtown Amherst and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.
About Amherst College
Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world.